Secondary Complications After Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury in Adults in Brazil

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Paula C. Nogueira, RN
Fundamental Nursing Graduate Studies Program, University of Sao Paulo at Ribeirao Preto College of Nursing, Ribeirão Preto, Brazil
Maria Helena Larcher Caliri, PhD, RN
School of Nursing, University of Sao Paulo at Ribeirao Preto, Ribeirao Preto, Brazil

Learning Objective 1: identify the secondary complications after traumatic spinal cord injury in adults in Brazil

Learning Objective 2: recognize the negative outcomes of these complications.

In Brazil, as in many countries, traumatic Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) affects a young population and strongly affects their quality of life and their capacity to resume labor activities. During acute care, they are prone to many secondary complications that need to be considered and prevented, as they contribute to increase the suffering of individuals and family members, to morbidity, costs of care, impairments and also the risk of death. Even though nursing care for this population is directed not only to physical and biological aspects of care, research about aspects related to the occurrence of complications is important, as many of them are related to patient safety and care quality. This research aimed to identify which complications are more frequent in an adult population at a tertiary hospital in a city in the interior of Brazil. Data was collected retrospectively during a four-year period, using the records of 47 hospitalized patients, after approval by IRB. Most patients were male (97.5%), white (68.1%), less than 30 years old (36.2%) and had an SCI in high neurological level. Average length of stay was 21.47 days (SD 28.50). The most common secondary complications were: pressure ulcer in 20 individuals (42.5%), pneumonia in 14 (29.8%), urinary tract infections in 5 (10.63%) and bowel impaction in 3 (6.4%). Considering that most of those complications may be prevented by an evidence-based care, the researchers proposed strategies to address the issues at the institution.